Samsung Galaxy S/Android Review


Kind of a belated review. Just upgraded from a Nokia E65 to a Samsung Galaxy S three weeks ago. They both actually cost the same amount of monies but 3 years on, money buys you much more technology, as you can see in the comparison chart below (from gsmarena):

  Nokia E65 S$398 (2006) Samsung Galaxy S S$398 iPhone 3GS 8GB S$388
3G Network UMTS 2100 (384kbps) HSDPA 7.2Mbps, HSUPA 5.76Mbps HSDPA 7.2Mbps
Weight 115 g 119 g 135 g
Dimensions 105 x 49 x 15.5 mm 122.4 x 64.2 x 9.9 mm 115.5 x 62.1 x 12.3 mm
Display TFT, 16M colors, 240 x 320 pixels, 2.2 inches Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 480 x 800 pixels, 4.0 inches TFT capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 320 x 480 pixels, 3.5 inches
CPU Dual ARM 9 220 MHz processor ARM Cortex A8 1GHz processor ARM Cortex A8 600 MHz
Internal Memory 50 MB storage, 64 MB RAM 16GB storage, 512 MB RAM, 2GB ROM 8GB storage, 256 MB RAM
Card Slot microSD, up to 2GB microSD, up to 32GB No
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11b/g Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
Bluetooth v1.2 v3.0 with A2DP v2.1 with A2DP, headset support only
Camera 2 MP, 1600×1200 pixels 5 MP, 2592 x 1944 pixels, autofocus 3.15 MP, 2048×1536 pixels, autofocus
Additional Camera Features Videocalling, Video Record CIF (352 x 240) 720p@30fps, Secondary VGA Video Call Camera, geo-tagging VGA@30fps, video geo-tagging
Additional Hardware Features   3.5 mm audio jack
Stereo FM radio with RDS
Accelerometer, Digital Compass,
Proximity and Light Sensors
Accelerometer, Digital Compass,
Proximity and Light Sensors
Radiation 0.87 W/kg (head) SAR EU 0.24 W/kg (head) SAR EU 0.45 W/kg (head)

Hardware component cost must have shrunk quite a bit over the years. Also, in comparison to the iPhone 3GS, the Galaxy S hardware is clearly superior in just about every aspect. Note that the quoted price here comes with a 2 years binding contract with the telco. It’s interesting to observe that just weeks before the Galaxy S was released, the iPhone 3GS was retailing at a hefty S$518, which no doubt is not a competitive pricing.

Now on to the software: Android. Must say that it is still nowhere near the silky smooth experience on the iPhone (disclaimer: i have never used an iPhone extensively before, this comes from just observations of other people using the iPhone). How Apple achieves this – dedicate all the processing power to rendering the sweet animations that tickles everyone. Click or swipe and the phone responds immediately with the animation showing the desired application is launched. Doing this scores big on user experience. I suspect this was the reason multi-tasking wasn’t supported in early versions of the iPhone – there was just not enough processing power to guarantee that the user experience will remain top-notch.

What Android does is probably the opposite, cram as many features (and bug fixes) into every release as possible without making the user experience the top priority, and the result is that it gets laggy at times. For a self-confessed geek like myself, this is not an issue. When i have launched a few apps while trying to surf at the same time, i understand that the processor may not be able to cope. This is a tradeoff i’m happy to accept, in return for the flexibility to do whatever i like: multi-tasking, task termination, widgets, app launchers etc. Plus Android being the low cost (free?), open and thus widely adopted OS that it is, there is accelerated development in the hardware department from manufacturers who constantly try to out-do each other.

One thing cannot be neglected though: Google owns Android. The moment you provide your Google account credentials, your gmail, gtalk apps are automatically activated (you almost cannot do without a Google account if you use Android). With syncing turned on, your contacts are automatically copied to your gmail contacts list. On surface, this appears to make synchronization and backing up of data easy, but think of it in another way, now Google knows who your friends are. Your conversations, location, photos, videos, browsing history etc. are all vulnerable to being spied on. This begs the question: is Google becoming the new evil? It is just a matter of time before we start hearing paparazzi news sourced conveniently from the single point where all personal information is converging – the smart phone.

To wrap up, it’s worth pointing out that owners of the Galaxy S can anticipate a performance boost when Samsung releases the Android 2.2 Froyo firmware. There’s much promise in Android..

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